SEC Newgate Mood of the Nation - October 2022

National mood darkening as reality bites on cost of living, putting growing pressure on governments to act

The national mood is darkening as reality bites about the cost of living, interest rates and housing affordability, which is putting pressure on the performance of the Federal and State Governments’, SEC Newgate’s latest new Mood of the Nation Research Report finds.

In brief:

  • There’s been a significant rise in pessimism in Australians’ outlook for the economy
  • In October, we’ve noted a slide in ratings of the Federal and State Governments’ performance
  • The Federal Government’s childcare subsidy plan has attracted strong support

The monthly tracking survey taken between October 5 and 10 shows an increase in the negative emotions people have been feeling in recent weeks – with the proportion of negative sentiments like “anxious”, “stressed” and “exhausted” rising to 58%, up 5% from last month.


Reducing cost increases for household bills and other essential household expenses remains the top priority for Australians, with housing affordability and interest rates increasingly being mentioned as a priority this month. Grocery prices (80% concerned), petrol prices (80%) and electricity bills (73%) remain the top 3 cost of living concerns, followed by insurance premiums, gas bills and rent and mortgage payments.

These cost-of-living issues are playing out against a backdrop of warnings of a rise of up to 35% in energy prices in Australia that will feed into higher inflation on essential goods.

All eyes will now be on the Albanese Government’s first Budget on October 25 and what policy response it may deliver as its balances both cost of living, inflation and debt management pressures that will limits its spending ability.

Federal and State Governments’ performance ratings sliding

As cost-of-living concerns continue to grow, the performance ratings of Federal and State Governments are beginning to slide across the board. The Federal Government’s performance has fallen 6 points this month to 37% (rated “good” to “excellent”) from a high of 44% in August, and all other State Government ratings have also fallen this month.

Of particular interest with State Elections looming, the performance rating of the Victorian Government, which goes to the polls on November 26, has fallen 11% to 42% while the NSW Government’s performance rating has also slid to 31% ahead of an election in March next year.

The Federal Labor Party still hold a commanding lead over the Liberal National Party on the best party to manage the cost of living with a 40/24 lead, although that rating has closed a little off its previous high of 43 in September.

Significant rise in pessimism in outlook for the Australian economy

This month has seen a significant rise in pessimism about the economy over the next 3 to 12 months, possibly reflecting the increasingly gloomy economic warnings from the Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers.

The survey shows an 11-point jump to 56% of people believing the economy will get worse in the next three months, while 47% (up 6) have a similar view for the 12-month outlook. However, long-term confidence remains strong with 62% believing the economy will get better over the next three years.

Strong support for the Government’s childcare subsidy plan.

There is broad support for the Federal Government’s childcare subsidies plan (54% support and 21% oppose) although attitudes are divided on whether it should be brought forward to January 2023 with only 37% wanting it fast tracked.

Pensioner incentives and education are popular initiatives to address worker shortages.

84% support increasing the amount of hours pensioners can earn before their pensions are reduced, 83% additional apprenticeships and 80% providing free TAFE courses. Increasing Australia’s permanent migration attracted only 44% support with 28% opposed, suggesting this is an issue the community is yet to fully warm to.

Consistent majority support for the Voice, but the public are not pushing for a Republic.

A majority of Australian (55%) continue to support an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, although support has softened slightly since August (57%).

In the wake of the Queen’s passing, only a third of Australians (36%) support Australia becoming a republic with 34% opposed and 30% neutral.

Strong support for Queensland’s new energy plan.

73% of Queenslanders support the Queensland Government’s ambitious new energy plan that will build new wind, solar, Australia’s biggest hydro power development, and a “super-grid” that will allow it to meet a 60% renewable energy target. The survey finds continuing strong support for the renewables transition with 44% saying it is an extremely important priority.

What that means for Government.

“Our latest Mood of The Nation Report show the increasing pressure on Governments across the board to address cost-of-living issues.

“With rising interest rates and rental stock shortages, housing affordability continues to be a growing issue that will put the Government under pressure for a stronger policy response on this key issue.

“Despite the dip in its perceived performance, the Federal Labor Government would take some comfort that it still holds a strong lead over the Coalition on who was best to manage any cost-of-living crisis.”

David Stolper, Partner, SEC Newgate Research


Contact us for more information about the full research report. We’ll be reporting on tracker results every month in 2022.

David Stolper, Partner, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]

Sue Vercoe, Managing Director, SEC Newgate Research – [email protected]

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